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Can Massage Improve the Immune System & Prevent Viruses?

Silohuette of a cartoon female surrounded by cartoon representations of viruses and infections

As we all know massage therapy has a long history. Evidence from India points back to massage therapy existing as far back as 3000 BC where it was regarded a sacred practice and a vital part of Ayurvedic traditions. Noted in ancient civilisations across the globe, the knowledge held by massage therapists has always been seen to help with a range of ailments. 


Image of massage therapy in Ancient China

The benefits of massage therapy include; 

  • reduced tension in the muscles 
  • a reduction in hormones associated with stress
  • increased flexibility in the joints 
  • increased mobility 
  • improvements in circulation
  • aids with insomnia and improves sleep in general 
  • assistance with high blood pressure 
  • improvement to the visibility of scars
  • enhanced recovery of soft tissue injuries
  • reduction in the symptoms associated with anxiety and depression
  • enhanced sense of relaxation
  • to alleviate nausea and fatigue in cancer patients
  • with the appropriate training massage can support women through the back pain associated with pregnancy 
  • stimulates the lymphatic system which soothes the nervous system
  • can help treat colic and constipation in babies

But studies have also shown that massage therapy can help boost the immune system, a benefit that could prove vital to patients with conditions like HIV where the body sees a reduction in the white blood cells known as T Lymphocytes


Facebook post from Vikki Blisslightyoga Carr about massage supporting the immune system


Tested in a clinical trial with mice scientists found that after applying stroking techniques for 8 days with both hands and brushes the results support the theory that massage therapy might be valuable in the treatment of immunodeficiencies, as the treatments delivered by hand provided the most benefits. 


Facebook post from Pamela Brubaker Perron about massage helping with the immune system of paitents with Lyme disease


In the Dominican Republic a trial yielded really positive results after exploring whether massage therapy could aid the immune systems of children with HIV who currently could not access antiretroviral therapies


Abstract from Impact of a Massage Therapy Clinical Trial on Immune Status in Young Dominican Children Infected with HIV-1


Further investigation has claimed that the reason behind this maybe an underappreciated link between emotional and immunological responses. In studies focused on the field of affective immunology, results suggest that emotional and immunological systems share more than a similarity of functions. This study also suggest thatfuture trials should explore "how different life events permanently mark immune cells and make them more prone to develop an exacerbated immune response", a topic which would help support the idea of massage therapy being able to help reduce this effect by helping ease stress and other difficult emotions. 

Do you have experience of working with clients looking to boost their immune system? Let us know in our Facebook thread


This is a great article to educate and share with your clients. Hit one of the share buttons below to get the good news out there!


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